Gaurav Tewari, Founder and Managing Partner of Omega Venture Partners.
In recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has made its way into every area of our lives. If you are a programmer, chances are you started working with GitHub’s Copilot, an AI tool that converts natural language prompts into coding suggestions to speed up programming. If you’re a writer, you may have come across OpenAI’s GPT-3 or similar auto-regressive language models that use deep learning to create human-like text. It’s only been a few years since such AI programs were in their infancy. Now they are becoming ubiquitous tools in writing and coding.
As the founder of a technology investment firm, I’ve seen firsthand how much AI has progressed in such a short time. The underlying building blocks of technology are getting amazingly better at an exponential rate, far exceeding our expectations. Techniques such as deep learning allow us to use complex AI models to solve the most difficult problems. But while those working in technology-focused careers are aware of the explosive possibilities of AI, the general public is still largely unaware of the depth of AI’s potential.
The growth of AI
Many of us have played with DALL-E 2 for a few hours, the AI text-to-image generator who can create detailed images of the most bizarre requests (think Obi-Wan Kenobi eating a hot fudge sundae). But how many of us realize the level of technology needed to create one of those images? This app does not create images from existing internet images, rather it uses a complicated process called diffusion to refine a series of pixels until the visual representation matches the text description. Not only is the DALL-E 2 exponentially more powerful than its predecessor released the year before, but it also has the potential to revolutionize the world of digital art.
Think about it: if you’re a digital artist, illustrator, or graphic designer, how much would your career change if you could use an app to create a realistic-looking image in seconds? These technologies are linked to real world applications with serious consequences.
The sheer speed and magnitude of AI innovation has also led to impacts in areas such as commerce or digital healthcare. The development of AlphaFold, an AI system descended from AlphaGo, was originally a deep learning model trained to beat humans at the board game Go. When AlphaGo was released five years ago, few predicted that this deep learning model would one day lead to a revolutionary discovery in molecular biology.
AlphaFold uses a deep neural network to to predict the 3D structures of proteins. The AI is a major advance in what scientists call the “protein folding problem” and eventually predicted the structure of more than 200 million proteins, which is almost all that is currently known. AlphaFold’s abilities have opened the floodgates for medical researchers to develop countless drugs and vaccines to help humanity.
A competitive advantage
As AI continues to evolve exponentially, it is: transform the business world. The use of AI technologies can be a source of sustainable competitive advantage for companies. Think about what repetitive tasks you might be able to automate with AI or how you can use AI to increase the capabilities of your employees. Business functions such as marketing, sales, finance and HR are all areas that could use new AI applications; these applications include providing 24/7 financial guidance to customers, forecasting and assessing credit risks, and collecting and analyzing customer data.
In my opinion, we are reaching the escape velocity when it comes to AI. Who knows what might be possible in a few years? As AI innovations become relevant to almost every economic sector and industry, I believe that companies that do not use AI will be severely disadvantaged.
Newer companies have a clear advantage in this area. Where existing companies have to replace old technology, emerging entrepreneurs can invest more naturally in the latest technologies from the start. I advise executives to keep up with evolving AI technology trends to avoid the risk of being hounded by newer entrants.
AI is the biggest paradigm shift we’ve ever seen, and it’s evolving much faster than previous shifts. Developments such as the cloud, mobile and the web have all changed the game, but none of them have evolved as quickly as AI. As artificial intelligence continues to grow, it will soon eclipse the impact of these past technology enablers, even as it builds on and expands the applicability and impact of those technologies.
Our success depends on leveraging what AI has to offer. Despite what some may believe, I see how AI is going to change our world. Rather than worrying about a dystopian future, we can see AI for what it really is: a powerful enhancer of human potential. Our only job is to make the most of it.
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